- News of the day
The Darling Downs Gazette and General Advertiser, Wednesday 17 June 1874, page 3
The Opening of the Victoria Bridge Brisbane
The procession then returned, the bridge on either side being lined with members of the procession who cordially greeted his Excellency as he passed along the ranks. On reaching the north side of the bridge, His Excellency congratulated the Mayor on the auspicious occasion, and named the bridge "The Victoria" amidst the enthusiastic cheers of the immense multitude in attendance.
So soon as he did so the flag was run up to the mast head, and No. 1 Battery of Volunteer Artillery [...] fired a salute of 17 guns. The gates were then taken down, and simultaneously the bridge on both sides was thrown open to the public, the first vehicle to cross being Cobb and Co's mail coach with six greys gaily decorated with ribbons, and driven by that well-known and popular pilot "Tom".
Construction of a bridge across the Brisbane River was first agreed to in 1861. The newly formed Legislative Assembly of Queensland forced the council to pay for the costs. £70,000 worth of borrowings was acquired from the Bank of Queensland. Work first began on the foundations for the first bridge across the Brisbane River on 22 August 1864. The bridge, known as the Brisbane Bridge, was a tolled, timber structure which opened in June 1865. It was a temporary structure which was to be replaced by a more elaborately designed, iron lattice-girder bridge. The Bank of Queensland failed in July 1866, bringing about a halt to funding for the project. The state government was reluctant to take on responsibility for the bridge's construction because it didn't want to incur debt. The timber bridge quickly succumbed to marine wood worm and began to progressively collapse. The council wasn't able to fully repair the structure and its remnants took two years to fall away into the river.
In 1871, an English company, Peto, Brassey and Co, agreed to complete the bridge. A new crossing, opened on 15 June 1874 by the Governor of Queensland, the George Phipps, 2nd Marquess of Normanby, was an iron structure and a toll bridge. The bridge was paid for by significant council borrowings that were to be recouped by tolls. However a lack of revenue forced its transfer to the Colonial Government. The tolls were abolished at this time. It included a turning span to allow tall masted river traffic to pass upstream. The position of the swinging span was fixed when the tram-lines were laid along the bridge. It carried a 6 in (0.15 m) and a 9 in (0.23 m) diameter pipe which supplied mains water to South Brisbane. This bridge was partially washed away in the 1893 Brisbane flood.
Courtesy of Wikipedia